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National housing statement: looking for the detail



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media release (5*1 national

shelter

11 December, 1995 Release N o. 6/95

National Housing Statement: Looking for the detail.

National Shelter welcomed die focus today on Australian housing policy. The initiatives In the statement need to be provided in further detail and the cornerstone of housing assistance policy, the Commonwealth State Housing Agreement is still under negotiation between Federal and State Ministers.

Additional funds for public housing redevelopment are a welcome feature of die government's housing statement, however, It is still not dear how much of the additional $80 million allocated through the Better Cities Program will be spent on public housing redevelopment. National Shelter has called for a national audit of public housing stock to determine the level Of funds required to bring public housing stock up to an adequate standard.

An affordability benchmark which limits public tenants' housing costs to 25% Of their incomes has been proposed. Benchmark approaches have some merit. The problem with a flat benchmark of 25% is that different household types have different needs and for some families 25% is simply too high. Currently public housing tenants spend on average 18-22% of their Income on rent.

The emphasis in the statement is on demand side responses through increase in rent assistance to low Income private renters. All the relevant research indicates that an effective national housing policy requires both demand and supply side measures. National Shelter's Chairperson, Eleri Morgan-Thomas says: "the government must provide figures on how the Increase will improve the situation of private renters. What we

have seen In the past decade la that Increases in rent assistance have provided some relief but in the majority of cases many low-income renters continue to remain In housing related poverty."

Consumer Codes of Practice are a positive initiative which must be developed effectively by involving consumer? In the development, Implementation and monitoring . The consumer framework under the new CSHA needs to be enforceable and It must offer measurable service Standards to consumers. The most pressing consumer rights issues can be found to private rental. Discrimination and lack of security of tenure need to be addressed by

State and Federal governments by setting minimum national standards for private rental.

Indexation of CSHA funding Is fundamental. Funding has decreased in real terms by 40% since 1986/87 while the public housing system has continued to provide the only secure, affordable housing option for 300,000 households, toctodtog the most disadvantaged, people in our community. With the proposed Commonwealth withdrawal from housing provision, In the form of capital funding, there is no incentive for expansion of public housing stock.

Government is promoting private rental on the basis of unequal subsidies between public and private renters. National Shelter's response to this Is that by the highest housing subsidies are targeted to high Income home owners. Subsidies to public renters include a capital component which represents a valuable public asset. These Issues need to be recognised by government in any discussions abut equitable housing outcomes between different

tenures.

Media viKjuiries; Aim lo le y ...................................................................................... 06 - 257 2b79

06-2487597

Fur copies of our National (lousing Statement vail Lorraine Waller on the same number. PO Box 25 Heckett ACT 260Z SuiteĀ» 5-8, Old Hackett Primary School, Maitland Street, Hackett, ACT 2602. PHONE: (06) 257 2679 FAX: (06) 257-1814.